Throat Ulcers

What You Should Know About Throat Ulcers

The very thought of throat ulcers brings to mind a serious and painful condition. While this can be true in some cases, most instances of these ulcers, while they may be painful, are usually not serious and easily treated. A throat ulcer is a lesion or open wound, often occurring near the back of the throat, and can make swallowing painful, and in some cases, difficult.

One of the dangers of throat ulcers lies not so much with the ulcer itself, but with the swelling than may accompany the ulcer. The danger is greater when there are a number of lesions, and the swelling caused by these lesions begins to interfere with breathing. If one experiences any combination of a sore throat, painful swallowing and difficulty in breathing, medical attention should be sought immediately. The danger of course is that as time passes, if the swelling increases, breathing may become even more difficult and eventually impossible.

Herpes Simplex - There are quite a number of conditions that can cause a throat ulcer to form. One of the more common is herpes simplex, the virus which causes the cold sores we sometimes get in our mouth or on our lips. These can be painful, as would an ulcer in the throat caused by the same virus. Treatment is fairly simple however. Although antibiotics are not effective against the herpes simplex virus, and are not effective against any virus for that matter, the throat ulcer itself is usually a bacterial infection, even though the initial cause was due to the herpes simplex virus. A combination of antibiotics and mouthwash will usually treat this type of an ulcer effectively.

Candida - Another common cause is due to a Candida infection, a yeast infection. A Candida infection most often strikes those who have a weakened immune system, and is most common in infants and the elderly. Antibiotics are the cure for the ulcer here as well. When a Candida infection is present, the cure can sometimes be quite uncomfortable for a period of time, as the dying bacteria (yeast) decay, and in the process release toxins. Therefore it's all the more important to have antibiotics on hand to prevent and further infection in the ulcerated area.

Herpes Zoster - Somewhat less common, though still occasionally encountered are throat ulcers caused by the herpes zoster virus, the virus responsible for chickenpox, and later in the lives of some, shingles. While shingles usually occurs somewhere on the body in the skin's surface, it can affect internal organs as well, and can in some cases, though seldom, can affect the throat. While there are treatments for shingles, often the disease, a viral disease, is allowed to run its course.

Home Remedy - If a throat ulcer should occur, there are a few things that can be done at home, both prior to seeing a doctor, and during a course of treatment the doctor may prescribe. One thing to do is to avoid eating spicy foods, which can only irritate the open throat ulcer. Even drinking citrus juices can cause a considerable amount of discomfort. It's best to avoid anything that is acidic, and avoid alcohol as well. Too strong a mouthwash can also cause irritation and pain, but rinsing the mouth and throat and gargling several times a day will usually be beneficial, so ask your druggist for an over the counter mouthwash that will work for you without causing discomfort. A salt water rinse or gargle can be effective as well, or at least soothing. Salt is usually very effective in reducing swelling, and can also help in fighting the infection, whether is viral or bacterial.

Summary - In summary, throat ulcers are usually not serious and can often be treated at home. If however, you experience any difficulty in breathing or start running a fever, a physician should be consulted without delay.